Image: Felipe Micaroni Lalli

Frankly, “getting a man” or “winning love” sounds as if it has its roots in unmet childhood needs. As children, we spend a lot of our time trying to retain our parents’ love. We soon realize that their love isn’t always unconditional, and so we develop strategies to retain their affection. Maybe we squash our true feelings; maybe we turn inwards; maybe we don’t speak up when we desperately need to. These strategies might work well as a child, but they don’t play out so well in our adult relationships, especially romantic ones.I spent years trying to win men over, to get them to like me, to make them want to be with me. I purchased books on how to seduce men, how to get them, while completely glossing over any deeper issues at play. But working on surface-level tactics and techniques only gets you so far; in my case, it didn’t really help at all. When I started to go deeper and recognize how my unmet childhood needs played out with men, I was able to consciously make different choices in my love life.

One of the biggest hurdles many of my clients (and other women I talk to) have to work to overcome is a pattern of tamping down their voice and needs. Instead of a woman using her voice (in rational, mature, heartfelt ways that reflect a sense of self-respect) when an issue comes up in a budding relationship, she silences herself, all to keep the guy around, to win him over, to get him. Sometimes, a woman doesn’t speak up because she’s too afraid of the answer; she’d rather keep mum than risk the possible rejection that comes with voicing her needs. When you take risks with another human being, you get to see how much they value you, as an old therapist of mine once said. And while that can be really scary (you may discover they don’t value you in the ways you hoped), it’s the only way to know his or her interest level and to develop deeper intimacy.

When we’re so hell bent on getting the guy (or girl), we ignore red flags, bad behavior, our gut instincts. When a woman looks the other way or squashes her feelings or needs early on, she sets up a dynamic where she feels unable to be honest moving forward. And then she’s never able to relax; she feels stifled, on edge. She may even forget to stop and ask herself “do I even like this guy, and does he really have the qualities I’m looking for?” because she’s so busy trying to get him.

I don’t believe talking about dating and love in terms of getting a man or winning him over is the best way to help women consciously create healthy, happy relationships. Now, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a bit of a dating dance that goes on in the early stages of a budding relationship. Naturally, people want to put their best selves forward, especially

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